Sour Cream Anise Panna Cotta with Lace Cookies (Daring Bakers February)

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I had fun with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I love panna cotta, but I don’t make it nearly enough.  It’s one of those desserts that I love to order at restaurants, but don’t typically think to make at home.

Since I have made panna cotta before, I decided to mix it up a bit this time with some new flavors.  A few months ago, I had some sour cream anise ice cream at one of my favorite restaurants, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I just loved the flavors. Since I had some whole star anise in my pantry, I decided to try to use the same flavors in my panna cotta.

I wasn’t so sure about the florentine cookies, though.  The recipe seemed to be a combination of a traditional florentine cookie and what I have always known to be “lace cookies” made with rolled oats.  I didn’t think the chocolate in the florentine cookies would pair real well with my sour cream and anise panna cotta, so I decided to adapt a recipe for lace cookies from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion (one of my favorite cookie resources).  I added a few of my favorite spices to the recipe for some extra flavor, too.  Instead of milk chocolate or dark chocolate, I opted for white chocolate to sandwich and drizzle a few of the cookies.

To tie it all together, I paired the panna cotta and cookies with some homemade lemon curd and a few blueberries.  It turned out to be the perfect combination of creamy and crunchy. The panna cotta had just the right amount of anise flavor, with a hint of tang from the sour cream. I loved the way it paired with the bright flavor of the lemon curd.

This is definitely a recipe I will make again.  It’s elegant enough for a dinner party (especially if you pour the panna cotta into fancy glasses) but it’s also easy enough to enjoy any time.  I ended up serving the panna cotta in a few different ways.  I tried chilling some in ramekins that I unmolded and served on top of a cookie, and I also poured some into some small crystal glasses that I have (and rarely use… wedding gift). My favorite presentation for the panna cotta, though, was to layer it with the lemon curd in some small canning jars.  I crumbled up a few of the cookies into the tops of the jars right before serving for some crunch.  I just think it would be perfect for a picnic!

Sour Cream Anise Panna Cotta
(Adapted from the Daring Bakers recipe from Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 1 cup cold milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 packet (1/4 ounce) of unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the star anise, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot, and add the two halves of the vanilla bean.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for about 20 minutes to infuse the cream with the anise and vanilla.

Meanwhile, pour the milk into a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let the gelatin soften in the milk for about 5 minutes.

Strain the star anise and the vanilla beans from the cream, and return the cream to the saucepan.  Add the honey, sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Cook, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add the milk and gelatin and continue to whisk until dissolved, an additional 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sour cream.

Cool slightly before pouring the liquid into glasses, ramekins, or jars. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Spiced Lace Cookies
(Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oatmeal)
  • 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and work into the oats mixture.  Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and stir until it has been evenly incorporated and a sticky dough forms.

Place teaspoons (yes, teaspoons… the cookies spread quite a bit) about 3 – 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 7 – 8 minutes, until golden/amber in color.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Please note that the links to the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion provided on this page are Amazon affiliate links.

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21 Responses to Sour Cream Anise Panna Cotta with Lace Cookies (Daring Bakers February)
  1. Paula
    February 27, 2011 | 9:00 am

    You really went all out for this challenge Jen and it certainly paid off. Your dessert looks beautiful and the little dollop of your home-made lemon curd is a perfect addition.

  2. Jenni
    February 27, 2011 | 10:01 am

    Great flavor combinations!!! Your panna cotta and lace cookies look perfect! And I am totally in love with the way you presented your lemon curd. I’m a sucker for jars and twine. :) Great job!!

  3. Kim
    February 27, 2011 | 11:58 am

    Interesting recipes! I wish I could look at a recipe and change it up, but I’m a pretty to the letter recipe follower. Nice job on the challenge!

  4. debbie T
    February 27, 2011 | 4:41 pm

    oh I’ve been dying to make panna cotta! I’ll definitely have to try this recipe. Those cookies look yummy too!!!

  5. Tracey
    February 27, 2011 | 5:47 pm

    I’m not a huge panna cotta fan, but your photos are stunning Jen! The flavor combinations sound really interesting too – great job adapting this one.

  6. Erin
    February 27, 2011 | 6:49 pm

    Wow!! Beautiful photos and I can’t wait to try out your variation of the panna cotta recipe. The spices sound so divine! And lemon curd! Genious! Great job on the challenge. :)

  7. Simon @ the heart of food
    February 27, 2011 | 7:04 pm

    Love the canning jar look. Bet that could work at a dinner party with its rustic edge to it :)

    Nice work with the challenge.

  8. Ashlae
    February 27, 2011 | 7:48 pm

    I love the flavor combination. And the mason jars + bows are absolutely adorable. You did such a lovely job!

  9. Eliana
    February 27, 2011 | 9:42 pm

    You did so well with this challenge Jen. Your masterful creation looks stunning :)

  10. tia @ buttercreambarbie
    February 27, 2011 | 9:43 pm

    wow all your pics look so fantastic!!! clean and elegant. great job! I did a cheese-cake type panna cotta :)
    ButtercreamBarbie

  11. Shelley C
    February 27, 2011 | 9:48 pm

    I love all of the different presentations that you tried for your panna cotta, not to mention how lovely that flavor combination sounds. Really great that you found a variation of the florentine recipe that suited your tastes. Awesome job on the challenge.

  12. Sheena
    February 28, 2011 | 6:52 am

    Your panna cotta flavour sounds amazing, I think any spice would be so aromatic in the creamy base. Lemon curd is such a lovely pairing for the panna cotta, and I love the spiced cookies too. Great job on this challenge!

  13. Maggie
    February 28, 2011 | 11:11 am

    The anise/lemon panna cotta sounds fantastic! Beautiful job!

  14. Audax Artifex
    February 28, 2011 | 12:44 pm

    OMG WOW your photographs are magnificently stunning I love the panna cotta in the jars that is so cute and the flavour profile is a definite keeper (I made liquorice also) and your Florentices are beautiful so thin and crisp! Bravo bravo bravo to you.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  15. Evil Shenanigans
    February 28, 2011 | 5:11 pm

    Beautiful job! I could love off those lace cookies … just sayin’! ;)

  16. Joy
    February 28, 2011 | 8:53 pm

    I love the use of sour cream in this recipe.

  17. Karen | C&C
    March 1, 2011 | 4:47 am

    I love the panna cottas in those little jars. Brilliant idea and I love your lace cookies :)

  18. Jimena
    March 1, 2011 | 1:18 pm

    Great job on this challenge! Beautiful pics =)

  19. Nutmeg Nanny
    March 4, 2011 | 10:41 pm

    This looks great! Plus not to mention how awesome your photography looks :)

    I really need to get on the Daring Bakers bandwagon…I think I might have said that last month too…haha.

  20. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite
    March 5, 2011 | 7:24 pm

    Love your presentation Jen :-)

  21. Lea
    March 17, 2011 | 7:45 am

    I love how crisp your florentine cookies look!
    And the panna cotta looks amazing, too! Very crispy, yummy!

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